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Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal on Sept. 7.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The province’s health-care workers will have to have both doses of COVID-19 vaccine by mid-October or risk being suspended, Health Minister Christian Dube maintained Thursday.

Dube said he remains firm on his goal of ensuring the 20,000 workers in the network who are not yet fully vaccinated get their shots.

Asked today about the target, Dube says it’s still possible to vaccinate 20,000 health workers – which includes 10,000 who are in direct contact with patients – by the deadline. He noted the number has already dipped from 30,000 in late August.

“Yes, it is possible, they can do it,” Dube said in Quebec City when asked about the logistics. “We can vaccinate 100,000 persons per day. There’s still 20,000 left, they should go right now.”

But he has asked regional health officials to prepare a contingency plan in the event vaccination targets aren’t met, adding that some workers could be assigned to perform administrative tasks from home.

Quebec on Thursday reported 782 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, with the province now over 400,000 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the new cases, nearly 80 per cent were people who were not adequately vaccinated.

The Health Department said six more people were in hospital for a total of 256, with 87 of those requiring intensive care, a rise of two patients.

According to the province’s public health institute, 88.6 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and up have received one dose of vaccine, with 83.7 per cent considered adequately vaccinated. The province administered 18,886 COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday.

Dube also says the government wants to attract more than 4,000 nurses to work in the public network through various financial incentives, which have yet to be announced. He said the nurses would come from private agencies and out of retirement, and details of the plan will be provided next week.

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